November 6, 2013
Rereading Nate Silver: 3. Breakouts
In which, five years before he himself broke out, Nate Silver addresses breakouts.
Abstract: Nate introduces his new forecasting system—the Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm—and uses it to go over a list of breakout candidates produced by Peter Gammons’ survey of front offices. While the piece provides plenty of amusing-in-retrospect assessments (“Beltre is a small player by today's standards -- 5' 11'', 165 lbs., too small to be a great power hitter, and he might do well to follow Miguel Tejada's example and hit the weight room. If not, he's more likely to follow the long but unremarkable career path of his most historically comparable player, Aurelio Rodriguez”) of players who are now old, it’s more about the nature of breakouts, and whether common themes stick out to help us predict them. Among the rules of thumb:
Key quote: “If one needs any reminder that lists like these are little more than a grownup's version of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, it's worth reviewing a similar list that Gammons produced last year. That list includes roughly equal representation of the good (Alfonso Soriano and Derek Lowe), the bad (J.D. Drew), and the ugly (Juan Uribe), as well as four players whose performances were so impressive that they made repeat appearances on this year's list.”
Tangential reminder buried within a link within the piece that the 2003 draft was so, so bad, and also that spelling amateur players' names can be tricky:
10 players we can't wait to see drafted in the first round come June
On the Nate Silver Must-Read Scale: 1